Speaking of bear, West Virginia
is home to the Black Bear.
It is our official state mammal
(more info at: West
Until a few years ago I had never
seen one in the wild. When we lived in Greenbrier county I knew
planned their vacation time around bear hunting season. Was much
like deer hunting season here in Mercer county. Think the first
bear I saw was in Greenbrier county. It crossed the backcountry
road we were traveling coming down from Gunpowder Ridge toward
the Greenbrier River. Brief sighting, it bounded onto the road
from the downhill side of the road, crossed the narrow one lane
road, and leaped uphill into the woods. Gone in a flash.
When we moved to the farm on
Black Oak Mountain I ask about bear sightings. We knew they were
but never actually saw one. Were told by locals that they travel
through this area in the fall on their way to
Camp Creek to hibernate. Fine by me. While hiking on the hillside
behind our house we did find sign of bear.
A honeycomb in a tree had been clawed out, just at bear height.
Another time we found bear paw prints in dust
on a work bench at our barn. Prints were heading to a feed bin
that had been overturned and opened.
Bins held 100lbs of horse feed each. Horse feed had molasses
mixed in it, a tasty treat for a critter with a sweet tooth.
Raccoons had tried on many occasions to open those bins, unsuccessfully.
My brother lives on a farm next
to ours. He has 250 acres, much of it wooded. I like to hike
in the woods and photograph wildflowers. My brother warned me
to be careful on his side of the ridge because bear had been
spotted on game cam. He has a friend who likes to hunt. His friend
set up a game cam just over the ridge from our place. He sighted
the usual; turkey, raccoon, deer, coyote and BEAR. A couple of
years ago the bear was seen with 4 cubs. That year the cubs actually
tore down the game cam. Last year the momma bear had 3 new cubs.
Our bear population is growing rapidly.
Summer of 2013 several bear sightings
were reported. A UPS driver saw a bear cross the road
in front of his truck near our farm. A neighbor that lives down
toward Rock was driving by our farm and saw a bear cross the
road just above the switchback. My husband saw a very large bear
ambling across the south hillside, going from Wrights branch
toward our house. More recently (January 2014), we saw a bear
running up the road just beyond the switchback. At the time we
had several pieces of heavy equipment working on the farm, must
have disturbed his slumber. These are just sightings on our end
off Black Oak Road. This week have learned of more sightings
on the other end of Black Oak Road.
Our state mammal seems to be
making himself at home on Black Oak Mountain.